"Mono no aware" I thought. This thought came from nowhere, perhaps an offshoot from the months of practice I'd put into learning Japanese... and now I was going. Three years is a long time, no matter what you do, and I was commiting myself to staying in Japan that long... no matter what.

The plane touched down on a beautiful fall day. The scent of winter was in the air, but the weather was pleasant and the sun was shining. We were asked to please exit the plane in an orderly fashion, enjoy our time in Nagoya, and thank you for flying Delta. I sent my luggage to the hotel I was to stay at until I found a good apartment. I decided it was as good a time as any to start exploring. Bad idea.

It took no less than two and a half hours for me to get completely lost. I managed to find myself near a train station, which I knew would take me very close to my hotel... only most of my money is in my luggage. Yet another bad idea. I stood there, looking at the fare chart, holding my American money and a traveler's check or two...


Looking up, a woman, about my age, was standing there, holding a commuter card. Rather, holding it out to me.

".. ah .. I'm sorry?" I reply. She seemed to be giving me her card. I didn't know what to do... so she placed the card in my hand, turned, and left.

I was dumbstruck. My mind kept telling me to shout out, thank her, call her back, go after her. But I was frozen. When she was most definitely gone, I shook my head, and got on the train. It was the most beautiful thing anyone had done for me, and I never even knew her name.

As I watched the cherry blossom festival the following spring, I remembered the singular gift upon arriving, and the beauty of things not meant to last.